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Tucked into the vast and remote wilderness of northeastern Minnesota, Crane Lake is a picture of beauty seemingly taken before the rise of civilization. The lake's surface stretches across 3,088 acres, its shoreline presenting adventurous sites as it curls around evergreen trees, smoothes over chunks of pink and white granite cliffs, and winds its way towards waterfalls. Crane Lake has a way of keeping outdoor lovers busy from sunup to sundown.
Crane Lake is set in St. Louis County, Minnesota's largest county by area. The Vermilion River, which exits Vermilion Lake some 40 miles away, enters Crane Lake from the south. The water exits the lake at its north end through King Williams Narrows, on into Sand Lake, then flowing into Namakan Lake. From there, the water flows into Rainy Lake, and the water from this outlet forms the Rainy River.
Crane Lake has an average depth of 30 feet and a maximum depth of 80 feet. Part of a chain of lakes known as the Voyageur's Highway -- in respect for the fur traders who traveled through the area roughly 300 years ago -- these lakes skirt around and over the border of northeastern Minnesota and the Canadian Province of Ontario. This clear blue body of water rests at the southeastern entrance of Voyageurs National Park, which spreads across 84,000 acres.
Because northeastern Minnesota is made up of thousands of lakes, rivers and reservoirs, fishing is one of the more popular ways to pass time when visitors come to Crane Lake. A wide variety of fish species make their home in the lake, from walleye, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, northern pike, black crappie and bluegill to lake trout, sturgeon, sauger and lake whitefish. Fishing tours and boat rentals are readily available for those who want a guide to point out superior spots to fish.
Guide services are not always necessary, as many visitors set out on their own to explore the nooks and crannies of Crane Lake. Rent a canoe or kayak and chart your own course while scouting what the lake has to offer. Don't be surprised if you come across a moose sipping quietly at the water's edge, an eagle soaring across the summer sky, or a lynx padding softly into the dense thicket of trees. Wolves prowl deep in the woods and, from the porch of your lakeside vacation rental, can be heard howling in the distance.
While Crane Lake is "out of the way," the area has a number of amenities, such as grocery stores and restaurants, to keep the needs of those visiting and living in the area happy. Pop into a few craft stores to furnish your lakeside cabin or shoot the breeze with locals at one of the nearby bars. One quick and easy way to get to know your neighbors is to snap up a lakeside vacation rental on Big Bear Island, a small island located a quarter of a mile from the village of Crane Lake. The island's shoreline is only three miles long but is made up entirely of private lakeside vacation rentals and homes, offering gorgeous views of the lake and its mountainous scenery.
There are miles of trails around Crane Lake, presenting breathtaking sights like those at the Vermillion Gorge Trail, which can be accessed via car or by boat. The trail, which is roughly three miles long, takes hikers along rugged outcroppings of granite and sheer rock cliffs, with views of the river gorge presenting itself all along the way. An easier trail, just a 10-minute walk, is the Vermillion Falls Trail, taking visitors to a spot in the river known as "The Chute." The river narrows and soon becomes Class II or Class III rapids, making it unsafe for canoeists or kayakers to get too close at certain times of the year.
Campsites line the area close to the falls for visitors who enjoy spending the crisp evenings at Crane Lake outdoors. For a more comfortable stay, the options are endless. Lakeside vacation rentals, from rustic cabins to modern resorts, are available year round, tucked away in the spruce and fir trees. Houseboats present a unique option for the honeymoon couple or the tight-knit family who wishes to sleep and explore right on the lake.
Because Crane Lake is set in a remote location, the closest social atmosphere is chatting the evening away with the lake's visitors and year-round residents. This is one area that is not taken for granted, as most individuals find themselves settling into the wild surroundings with ease. Take a slice of some lakeside real estate and make Crane Lake your wilderness retreat today!
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